Fundraising: Making bird protection projects possible

Don't like asking for money? Does anyone?

Then don't ask for money; ask people "Would you sponsor me?"

Use social media. A Facebook post, with a photo and a link to your page, can reach hundreds of people at once. We've seen a Facebook request, repeated once during the Birdathon season, generate $1,000 in donations.

Try some of these Pledge Secrets from Boosterthon:

  • Group text 5 friends or colleagues asking for a pledge. Include your fundraising page link.
  • Tweet your Birdathon fundraising page link.
  • Make a video asking for a pledge. Share it on Facebook, Vine, or Youtube, or send it in a text message.
  • Email ten people asking for a pledge.
  • Post on your blog asking for a pledge.
  • Take an Instagram asking for a pledge.

Drop a flyer, postcard, or business card on a receptionist's desk, lunch room table, or office bulletin board. We've provided a document for you to modify here.

People give to people

Tell your personal story about why birds are important to you, and why you are involved in the Birdathon.

Talk about people or events that inspire you, whether an author like Aldo Leopold, a trip you took where you discovered birds, or a family member such as a birdwatching grandparent:

"My grandmother loved to watch the hummingbirds at her feeder. It would be a shame if they stopped coming back."

"Watching birds had kept me sane during difficult periods of my life."

"I've been studying birds for years and now I want to contribute to their conservation more than ever."

Include pictures of yourself birding, or your favorite birds. To make it easy for people to donate online, include the link to your personal or team fundraising page.

And don't forget to send your donors a personal thank-you and report of your Birdathon day.

Examples of fundraising requests from successful Birdathon teams:

Short email request

Personal letter

Facebook post

Post-Birdathon report to donors.

Who do you ask for pledges or donations?

  • Family and friends, of course.
  • Have you done the Birdathon before? Ask last year's donors and sponsors to sponsor you again.
  • Are you a student? Ask your classmates.
  • Ask the members of organizations you belong to--particularly nature-oriented groups.
  • Do you have a store, restaurant, bar or coffee shop you visit frequently? Ask the manager for a business sponsorship. 
  • Have you talked to your neighbor, mechanic, pet sitter, teacher, or doctor about your interest in birds? Send them a postcard or email. 

Don't just ask birder lovers!

Ask everyone. It's an interesting thing: some people you never expected will give to you, while some die-hard bird conservationists won't respond. You never know.

Why does it matter?

Birds are more than beautiful creatures we like to look at. They pollinate plants, control insects and small mammals, inspire art, boost local economies, devour dead animals, disperse seeds, clue us in to environmental changes, and more. As the late, great Wisconsin ornithologist Noel Cutright noted, 1/3 of our state's bird species are increasing, 1/3 are stable, and 1/3 are in decline. Now is the time to work hard at keeping common birds common, and to improve the welfare of those that are not.

When asking for pledges or donations, tell potential donors that the Great Wisconsin Birdathon is a grassroots, community event that directly benefits bird protection projects in Wisconsin. They can see the difference their donation makes. Tell potential sponsors where the money goes, focusing on those that might be of particular interest to the people you're asking:

Photo credits: Whooping Cranes, Operation Migration; Kirtland's Warbler, Ashley Hannah/WDNR; children birding, Briana Duran